PS2J 291 News – Boring School Stuff Folder

Free Games

  • Epic Games

    • GoNNER

      • 2016
      • A roguelike game often described as a shooter version of Spelunky- a procedurally generated 2D platformer that has you journeying in deep and dark places for a trinket to cheer up a giant landbound whale named Sally
    • Offworld Trading Company

      • 2016
      • A sci-fi RTS from the publishers of Sins of a Solar Empire that has you waging economic warfare on Mars, using anything from corporate takeovers to sabotage
  • Twitch

    • Bomber Crew

      • 2017
      • Strategic simulation game that has you picking the right crew to keep your Avro Lancaster bomber in tip top shape and complete your World War II era missions
    • Whispers of a Machine

      • 2019
      • A point and click sci-fi nordic noir that tells the story of a cybernetically augmented detective investigating a string of murders in a post-AI world
    • Mugsters

      • 2018
      • A physics-based sandbox puzzle game that has you outrunning, outmanoeuvring, and outsmarting the aliens that have taken over Earth and enslaved humanity
    • Furi

      • 2016
      • A twin-stick hack and slash shoot ’em up bullet hell consisting entirely of boss fights. The jailer is the key, kill him and you’ll be free.
    • Epistory – Typing Chronicles

      • 2016
      • An atmospheric action-adventure typing game following a girl riding a giant fox fighting insectile corruption in an origami world

With the COVID-19 coronavirus concerns in full swing, Google has cancelled their annual I/O developer conference and many are speculating that Apple may at the very least modify their own WWDC this spring

  • Other events like this year’s Game Developer’s Conference and Mobile World Congress events were previously postponed or cancelled due to concerns about the virus
  • With supply chains in China certainly being affected, it might just make sense to delay the product announcements as well and keep the developer portions of the presentations limited to online sessions
    • It’s gotten to the point where Apple Stores have been warned that replacement devices will be facing supply constraints for the next 2-4 weeks, so be warned if your phone needs a repair you might be caught with a loaner device in the meantime
  • Apple’s even sent care packages, called CareKits, to staff they have currently stranded overseas, that include things like coffee, tea, cookies, facemasks, and an iPad
  • If you’re interested in helping fight COVID-19, you can donate your unused computer resources by downloading the Folding@home client. That will add your computer to a pool that lets researchers farm out processing tasks to see how the virus attaches itself to human lungs, which they need to understand if they’re going to stop it
    • Similar efforts have contributed to research on diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s
    • Check out the full details at foldingathome.org
  • There’s also a similar piece of software available called Foldit, but instead of just using your extra processing power it’s actually a puzzle game that has you changing a protein’s shape to block how the virus infects people. According to PCGamer, Foldit helped researchers decode the AIDS virus back in 2011
    • If you want to take a crack at it, with no medical degree required, you can go to fold.it and give it a go

What do US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the FBI, Best Buy, Walmart, the RCMP, and a sovereign wealth fund in the United Arab Emirates have in common? Well according to Buzzfeed News they, along with thousands of other organizations, have been using a controversial facial recognition startup that’s facing legal threats and violating App Store regulations left and right

  • Clearview AI is apparently on a quest to create a global biometric identification system by scraping social media and the internet at large, and it’s for sale to anyone who wants it
    • They have paid contracts with organizations like ICE, US Attorney’s offices, and Macy’s, and have users at the FBI, Customs and Border Protection, Interpol, and the NBA
  • The New York based startup has claimed it’s tech is meant as a tool for North American law enforcement, but it’s been used by more than 2,200 government agencies and companies across 27 countries
    • So we have this product featuring a treasure trove of identifying information on a ton of people, accessible to anyone that can pay, oh and also they’ve been breached at least once so presumably a few people that haven’t paid as well
  • The hardest part here is that the US just doesn’t have any laws or regulatory framework for this kind of biometric tracking- there’s literally no accountability for their ability to gather up this information and sell it, leading to government agencies running literally thousands searches and most likely acting on the information received
    • We could have ICE agents walking into a supermarket, scanning people, and immediately deporting them without due process or investigation
    • And this is all based on the tech of a company that can’t even keep their client list confidential
    • It’s one thing to have a database of internally gathered mugshots, or even shared between agencies, but when you outsource it to a third party whose interests are purely monetary and scrapes the internet at large for information it gets really scary
  • All in all there’s a complete lack of transparency here- Clearview is providing free trials to anyone who wants them, even officers in police departments that have explicitly banned the app, and provided its software to private and public institutions all over the world
  • This stuff is so shady that they didn’t even want their iOS app distributed through Apple’s App Store- they abused the developer program, similar to Facebook’s Research app that paid users to spy on their information early last year, so that users could sideload the app without it being reviewed by Apple
    • In a response to Buzzfeed’s inquiry Apple investigated and suspended their developer account, effectively preventing the app from running

Overwatch Competitive Play Hero Rotation

  • To make competetive Overwatch more dynamic, Blizzard has implemented a Hero Rotation
  • First banned characters are
    • Orisa
    • Hanzo
    • Mei
    • Baptiste

Cool looking game: Nocturne

  • For free on Steam, try Nocturne: Prelude
  • The game caught my eye with a bright colour pallette
    • Cool high quality pixel graphics
    • and rhythm based combat
  • Here is the copy thy have on their Steam page:
    • Rich Narrative
      • The digital afterlife survived humanity’s extinction.
    • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of a story-driven RPG set within a digital afterlife. Millennia have passed since humanity’s extinction; but somehow you’ve only just arrived.
    • Your conscience was uploaded to a world where a sentient AI has taken control, twisted creatures roam the land, and a vast corruption spreads.
    • Rhythm Combat
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat with fierce battles and unexpected challenges. With multiple difficulty options, Nocturne: Prelude is a game suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Find equipment to unlock powerful combat buffs or special abilities. Defeat enemies to unlock them in Arcade mode, where you can challenge them again for highscores.
    • Classic RPG
    • Make friends, battle enemies, and traverse a beautiful world as it falls apart around you. The perfect balance of heart-pumping musical combat, magnificent worldbuilding and deep story.
    • Nocturne: Prelude was inspired by decades of traditional RPG’s that immerse you in fantasy worlds.
    • FEATURES
    • Meet a cast of unique characters who’ll challenge what it means to be alive.
    • Explore a vast and beautiful pixel art world.
    • Master an entirely skill based rhythm combat system.
    • Fierce battles with unexpected twists.
    • Challenge your highscores in Arcade mode.
    • Multiple difficulty modes suitable for beginners and veterans of the rhythm genre.
    • Original soundtrack composed with a mix of digital and live performances.
    • Befriend a giant orange fish.
  • Nocturne: Prelude is the first chapter of Nocturne, released for free. The main story contains about 1-2 hours of gameplay.

Tidbits

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake’s demo of officially available now, ahead of its April 10th release
    • I specify ‘officially’ available, because there was already a sizeable leak at the end of last year, with many getting their hands on the full playable demo at the time
  • Apple has agreed to pay up to $500M to settle the class action lawsuit over throttling the performance of older phones
    • The whole issue came about when iOS 11 hit, when it had an undocumented feature that managed the battery life of older phones to prevent unexpected shutdowns- benchmarks took a hit, but the devices stayed reliable
    • The problem was that they didn’t give any feedback or options for this feature until iOS 13 came out late last year, so while they’re not admitting any wrongdoing they’re still willing to pay each affected user $25 if the settlement is approved
      • As MrMcLargeHuge said in the arstechnica comments section, “They were correct from a technical standpoint, but wrong from a PR standpoint.”
  • The director of MI5, Britain’s Security Service has called on tech companies to find a way to allow spy agencies “exceptional access” to encrypted messages, and that he finds it “increasingly mystifying” that intelligence agencies aren’t able to easily read secret messages of suspects they’re monitoring
    • While he refers to cyberspace as an unregulated “Wild West” that is largely inaccessible to authorities, it kind of seems like they’ve gotten lazy with how easy it’s been to spy on users up to this point. Now that we’re putting locks on our messages they want a copy of the keys

 

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Free Games

  • Epic

    • Moonlighter

      • 2018
      • Action RPG that has you managing your shop by day, working with inventory and making money to expand your town, and exploring dungeons and fighting hordes of enemies by night to earn loot
    • This War of Mine

      • 2014
      • War survival game inspired by the Siege of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War, it focuses on the civilian experience of making difficult decisions and trying to keep your people alive by gathering and crafting resources while avoiding snipers and hostile scavengers
 

Security warning

  • there are eight different browser extensions out there that are stealing data from millions of customers and a long list of companies including Apple, Walmart, Amazon, 23AndMe, SpaceX, Skype, and many more
  • The extensions are
    • Branded Surveys (Chrome)
    • FairShare Unlock (Chrome and Firefox)
    • HoverZoom (Chrome)
    • Panel Community Surveys (Chrome)
    • PanelMeasurement (Chrome
    • SaveFrom.netHelper (Firefox)
    • SpeakIt! (Chrome)
    • SuperZoom (Chrome and Firefox)
  • The tracking activity has been reported to Chrome and Mozilla, who have disabled the add-ons and removed them from their marketplaces, but even after being disabled they continue to track and send user data
    • The only way to stop them is to completely uninstall the extensions involved
  • Leaked data includes user names, addresses, credit card info, passwords, files stored in the cloud, tax returns, genetic information, medical history… the list goes on
  • It just goes to show that we need to be careful about what browser extensions we download and use, since even though they’re on an official storefront doesn’t mean they’re safe
 

Nintendo has officially responded to the Joy-Con drift controversy

  • An American law firm is investigating a potential class action lawsuit
  • Their official stance is that affected players should visit support.nintendo.comand open a ticket to get your controllers repaired
    • This ticketing system seems to be a new development, since as recently as July 19th they just had basic troubleshooting steps like updating your system and recalibrating your Joy-Cons
  • Even with Nintendo offering repairs many people aren’t satisfied, citing high repair costs ($50 CAD out of warranty), slow turnaround, and the drift issues coming back very quickly (in some cases within days)
    • Systems carry a 12 month warranty, but controllers bought separately are only covered for 3 months
    • There are also a few unsubstantiated reports of Nintendo offering free out-of-warranty repairs, and refunds to people that already paid out of pocket, but it hasn’t been consistent so far.
  • It’ll be interesting to see how the Switch Lite fares, with its built-in controllers
 

Samsung’s Galaxy Fold is now slated to launch this September

  • They’ve apparently extended the plastic layer reviewers were peeling off to sit under the bezels, making it clear that it’s not supposed to be removed, and added reinforcements to protect the display from dirt and debris getting under it
  • End of the day this is still a $2000 USD concept tablet that folds into a phone with a surprisingly small screen, but we’ll see what people think of it this fall
 

FaceApp is under fire for processing photos and device-related data in Russia

  • A new warning tells users that photos will be uploaded to servers and not processed on their devices, but that was just added last week
  • Another piece to note is that you’re granting them a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use your data
 

Google Stadia’s director was on a Reddit AMA recently trying to reassure people that paying money for games that exist only in their service is completely safe

  • He went on to compare it to Gmail, Docs, Music, etc that have persisted for years
  • He declined to mention things like Nest, Google+, Inbox, and Reader, which have all been shut down. In many cases with little notice and no replacement on offer
  • If you want to see their track record you can check out killedbygoogle.com
 

Overwatch’s new Tank Sigma

 

ROLE

Sigma occupies the tank role. He is a full tank and uses a barrier to prevent damage.
 

SIGMA ABILITIES

Primary Fire – Hyperspheres

  • Fires limited ranged projectiles that can bounce off of walls. The orbs explode after a certain range and do area damage. This does 120 damage if you direct hit both of the orbs.
 

Experimental Barrier

Hold to propel a floating barrier; release to stop. Press again to recall the barrier to you.
  • This is Sigma’s main shield and what he will use to prevent damage for your team. It starts with 1,500 HP and can be placed on the map in front of you. It moves forward until you release the shield button. You press the button again to bring the shield back to you. The shield is just like Reinhardt’s shield where it needs to be recharged, and doesn’t have a separate health pool like Orisa’s shield.
 

Accretion

Gather a mass of debris and throw it at an enemy to knock them down.
  • Gathers rocks and throws them. Hitting a target at close range will only deal damage, further away targets will be hit by a knock-back and CC.
 

Kinetic Grasp

Absorb projectiles in front of you and convert them into shields.
  • Absorbs in coming damage and converts the damage up to 400 shield for Sigma.
 

Ultimate Ability – Gravitic Flux

Manipulate gravity to lift enemies into the air and slam them back down.
  • Sigma’s ultimate ability floats Sigma into the air (you can kind of fly around slowly) and allows you to place a black hole like ability on the ground. Any enemy within this area gets floated up into the air, and eventually they are slammed down onto the ground for 50% of their hp. You can fire Hyperspheres immeddiately after you’ve set the black hole.
 
Also they added Role Queue
  • For Quick play and Ranked
 

Tidbits

  • This week has brought new updates to iOS and watchOS, including releasing ECG and irregular heart rhythm notification functionality in Canada and Singapore
    • The walkie-talkie feature has also been re-enabled, and you can now migrate to a new iPhone by wirelessly connecting it to your old one; no computer required!
  • Amazon is apparently using police departments in the US to advertise their Ring seurveillance cameras in exchange for free products and access to an interactive map of active cameras where they can request footage stored in the cloud
    • The access is without a warrant, which is pretty damning, and Amazon’s agreement requires police to “keep the terms of this program confidential”, which means they clearly know it’s shady
  • Stjepan Sejic (styapun shayitch), the Croatian artist known as Nebezial online and behind the very popular Sunstone comic, is officially bringing his Harley Quinn origin story concept to DC
    • Harleen will be a 3 book series with oversized, 60 page volumes, and follow Dr Quinzel’s descent into madness as she grows more and more attached to the Joker
 

Alan recommends the Pokemon Go Team Rocket event

 

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